Kildangan 2020 fees reviewed: Why Blue Point is overpriced and other thoughts-Part 1 Belardo to Night of Thunder

Darley stands 16 stallions in Kildangan for 2020. It has a preponderance of sprinters/milers with only Teofilo being a noted middle distance sire. Either by accident of design, Darley’s elite middle distance sires (Dubawi, Golden Horn and New Approach) are homed in Dalham where they don’t compete head on with Coolmore’s array of middle distance sires. In this article, I gave a frank review of 9 sires on its Irish roster and will review the remainder over the Christmas break.

Kildangan Stud 2020 fee (2019 fee)

1.Belardo €10,000 (€10,000) 2012 Lope De Vega ex Danaskaya by Danehill)

Verdict: Fairly Priced

A Dewhurst winning son of Lope De Vega, he was second in the QE2 at three and won the Lockinge at four. That makes him sound very exciting but he actually only won five of his 16 starts and he seemed to lose his way at three, failing to win in 7 starts. His dam Danaskaya is listed as a Champion Irish two year old, but that honour was rather cheaply won and her best performances were placed efforts in the Cheveley Park and Lowther Stakes. It is a useful rather than exceptional female line.

Commercially, the markets didn’t seem in love with his first yearlings. The median was 20,000 guineas which is less than breeders would have expected off an initial €15,000 fee. At €10,000 he gives low cost access to a son of Lope De Vega, he was a Group 1 winning two year old and he compares well with Phoenix of Spain (by Lope de Vega ex Lucky Clio by Key of Luck) who will commence in the Irish National Stud for €15,000.

2. Blue Point €45,000 (€na) (2014 Shamardal ex Scarlett Rose by Royal Applause)

Verdict: Overpriced

There was a fair bit of speculation about Blue Point’s likely fee. His retirement with ‘nothing to prove’ was announced after Royal Ascot. Had Blue Point’s fee been announced in July, I suspect it would have been 25-30k. The arrival of Pinatubo, Earthlight and Victor Ludorum moved Shamardal’s reputation to a whole new level. Of his sire sons, Lope de Vega continues to climb the ranks, so if ever there was a good time to launch a son of Shamardal at stud it is now.

Blue Point was magnificent this year winning his five starts. These included 3 races at Meydan and then a Royal Ascot double in the Kings Stand over 5 furlongs and the Golden Jubilee over 6 furlongs. He has always been high class, winning a Gimcrack at 2, two Group races at three and the Kings Stand at 4. He ran twenty times, winning eleven and placed 6 times, so he was durable as well as classy. His dams pedigree is about speed. Scarlett Rose produced a Railway Stakes winner in Formosina, the second dam produced the tough and durable Tumbleweed Ridge but it’s not a particularly classy female line.

So why do I think he is overpriced?

Blue Point’s fee compares unfavourably with Caravaggio. Caravaggio was a better two year old, beat Blue Point in the Commonwealth Cup, is by an equally fashionable sire in Scat Daddy. Caravaggio has a slightly stronger distaff line yet he stands for 40k (and I think that is overpriced).

Blue Point was best at 5 and didn’t win his first Group 1 until he was four. Who is looking to breed four and five year olds? If you want a recent reminder of outstanding 5 year old sprinters failing at stud, check out stud mate Slade Power 🙂 Blue Point is an atypical Shamardal in terms of his distance preference and his distaff line is not top class. He may well succeed but there are just too many caveats for my liking to justify €45k…

3. Buratino €5,000 (€5000) (Exceed and Excel ex Bergamask by Kingmambo)

Verdict: Overpriced.

It’s small money but I think he is slightly overpriced given the risk/reward ratio. This is a sire heading into his fourth season with an initial yearling median of 6,000 guineas. Buratino was a precocious two year old who made his debut in March. When he won the Coventry in June from Air Force Blue it was his 6th race! Air Force Blue reversed the placings in the Phoenix Stakes but Buratino ran another fine race when only beaten half a length in the Middle Park. His subsequent three year old career was disappointing. As a son of Exceed and Excel, he can be expected to deliver early speedy types and his third dam Mira Adonde produced a rags to riches sire in Danehill Dancer. A few cheaper sons of Exceed and Excel have done well including Bungle intheJungle, Kuroshio and Sidestep and he may join their ranks, but I thought they would have dropped him to €4,000.

4. Dawn Approach €10,000 (€15,000) (2010 New Approach ex Hymn of Dawn by Phone Trick)

Verdict: Overpriced

He stood at €35,000 for his first three seasons, so his 2020 fee tells you that he hasn’t lived up to expectations. He was a champion two year old, a Guineas winner who won four Group 1’s but it’s his stud record that matters- and his stud record isn’t impressive. His winners to foals of racing age percentage is only 22% (120 from 544) and he is on 2% stakes winner to foals of racing age. He can sire a top horse but he is something of a ‘nearly sire’. Madhmoon is top class, having nearly won the Derby. Musis Amica nearly won the Prix de Diane and Mary Tudor was third in an Irish Oaks. Dawn Approach has yet to sire a Group 1 winner and only Madhmoon has won at Group 2 level. Commercially, he is dead in the water and he had a yearling median of 8500 guineas in 2019. I actually think there is good value in buying his yearlings at those sort of prices but you couldn’t advise a commercial breeder to pay €10k for next season.

5. Exceed And Excel €40,000 (€50,000) (2000 Danehill ex Patrona by Lomond)

Verdict: Overpriced

To start with the positives, Exceed and Excel is a successful stallion in two hemispheres, a real two year old sire, commercially popular and now achieving success as a broodmare sire and sire of sires. He had a very good year in Australia but was much quieter in Europe. This saw his yearling median dipped from 80000 in 2018 to 52000 guineas in 2019. At this stage, we know Exceed and Excel is a good sire with 164 (7%) stakes winners, but I don’t think his Northern Hemisphere results have justified his lofty fee. He still only has three Group 1 winners (Excelebration, Margot Did and Outstrip) to his name. There are better sires out there for the money and the market may be falling out of love with him….

6. Fast Company €12,000 (€12,000) (2005 Danehill Dancer ex Sheezalady by Zafonic)

Verdict: Overpriced

Was brought back to Kildangan for the 2017 after the classic success of Jetsetting and a Group 2 win for Devonshire in 2016. There was nothing comparable in 2019, with his top performer being the 6 year old Safe Voyage who won a Group 3 and finishing third in the QE2.

Fast Company had respectable sales returns this year with a yearling median of 17000 guineas. Anyone thinking of using him in 2020, will have to hope that the better mares he covered since 2017 will translate into track success. I’m not so convinced. He stood for €7000 in 2017 after his breakthrough season. I don’t understand why he is now worth €12,000 with little of note in the interim.

7. French Navy €4,000 (€4000) (2008 Shamardal ex First Fleet by Woodman)

Verdict: Overpriced

Had his first runners this season with a sprinkling of decent winners and there is hope that his progeny will improve with age. A likeable sort, French Navy managed 22 runs and 11 wins in a career that saw him running until he was 7. However, even at €4000 unless he gets a breakout horse he is going to be a very hard sell for the nominations team. His yearling median was an insulting 2350 guineas. Looking into my crystal ball, I see that if Casamento (another son of Shamardal) does ok as a jumps sire this fellow will follow him down that road.

8. Fulbright €4,000 (€4,000) (2009 Exceed and Excel ex Lindfield Belle by Fairy King)

Verdict: Overpriced

Like French Navy had his first runners in 2019. Unlike French Navy there was nothing of any quality and in terms of precocity much more would have been expected of Fulbright’s offspring. His median was 3000 guineas. I can’t think of any good reason to use him at any fee.

9. Night Of Thunder €25,000 (£15,000) (2011 Dubawi ex Forest Storm by Galileo)

Verdict: Unbelievably Good Value

Night of Thunder had an exceptional first season. That could turn out to be a statistical anomaly based on a small sample size but I don’t think so. A fee of €50,000 wouldn’t have seemed outrageous to me. It may be the case that his published fee is bit like those ‘limited special offers’ to get you in the door and they will try to sell you something else (because he is full) but hopefully they aren’t that cynical! I did a full review (probably reads like a love letter ) to Night of Thunder earlier this month and you can read that at . To summarise, I’m a big fan and if you can access him at €25,000 well that should make for a happy Christmas and New Year.

Coolmore 2020 Fees- An Honest Appraisal- Part 2

Continuing my candid review of Coolmore’s 2020 stud fees- from Magna Grecia to Zoffany…..

Stallion 2020 fee (2019 fee)
Magna Grecia €22,500 (na)- (2016 by Invincible Spirit ex Cabaret by Galileo)
Verdict: Overpriced

There are an incredible seven English 2000 Guineas winners standing at Coolmore. Magna Grecia was a decisive winner in 2019 but the race was unsatisfactory, with the near side runners seemingly at a big advantage. That said, he was already a Group 1 winner when he lined up for the Guineas having won the Vertem Futurity Trophy(aka Racingpost/Observer Gold Cup/Timeform/WilliamHill Futurity whatever you are having yourself). He was only 5th in Irish Guineas and missed most of the season before a final below par run in the QE2 at Ascot. He retired to stud with a record of three wins from six starts and a narrow defeat by subsequent French Guineas winner Persian King in the Autumn Stakes. He was an expensive foal at 340,000 guineas. Clearly a good looking individual, his dam was a Group winning daughter of Galileo and being a son of Invincible Spirit is a positive in selling any new stallion prospect. I don’t see him as the next Kingman or I am Invincible and expected him to be around €20,000. His fee will fall back over the coming years as he has to compete with newer arrivals on the marketplace.

Mastercraftsman €25,000 (€30,000) (2006 Danehill Dancer ex Starlight Dreams by Black Tie Affair)


Longfellow wrote:

There was a little girl,
Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
 When she was good,
 She was very good indeed,
But when she was bad she was horrid

That poem reminds me of Mastercraftsman. He can sire outstanding performers such as Alpha Centauri, The Grey Gatsby and Kingston Hill or lots and lots of dross. He had nothing of the calibre of Alpha Centauri in 2019, with his best winner Technician winning the Prix Royale Oak over nearly 2 miles. His 2019 yearling sales median dropped to 30000 guineas so he isn’t performing in the sales ring. He had smaller foal crops of 87 and 65 in 2017 and 2018 so his offspring won’t be as visible on the track in the coming years either. He may rebound on the strength of the crop conceived post Alpha Centauri but I would have expected him to be 20k for 2020.

No Nay Never €175,000 (€100,000) (2011 Scat Daddy ex Cat’s Eye Witness by Elusive Quality)

Verdict: Overpriced

No Nay Never (NNN) has done very well with his first two crops but someone needs to get a grip and rein in the Scat Daddy hype. NNN has sired one Group 1 winner, and he (Ten Sovereigns) only ever won at 6 furlongs. NNN impressed with his current crop of 131 two year olds, featuring the Dewhurst place getters Arizona and Wichita and Group 2 winner (and Dewhurst also ran) Mystery Power. The breeders who used him in the early days have done well for themselves with a yearling median this year of 80,000 guineas. However to justify his 2020 covering fee, a commercial breeder would have to get 250,000 guineas+ for the resultant offspring. Those are the sort of numbers better suited to classic prospects, not the types sired to date by NNN ie sprinters and two year olds. By way of comparison, Kingman and Frankel who are proven classic sires are £150,000 and £175,000 respectively for 2020 and Invincible Spirit is €100,000. Don’t get me wrong NNN is a hugely promising sire with very good percentages and his record will improve further with the better quality mares that he is now attracting. He is free of Danzig and Sadler’s Wells which helps with his mare compatibility in these parts. However, he is being priced as if he had already fully delivered on his promise and there is limited upside. NNN’s fee has gone too far, too soon and he is best left to the Coolmore band of mares who aren’t paying for the privilege.


Requinto €4,000 (€5,000) (Dansili ex Damson by Entrepreneur)

Verdict: No loss

I had just written, how he was somehow clinging on to his place in the Coolmore roster, when I came across a late announcement that he was relocating to Italy for 2020.Had a yearling sales median of 8500 guineas in 2019 and unlikely to be mourned by too many.

Rock Of Gibraltar €6,000 (€7,500) (1999 Danehill ex Offshore Boom by Be My Guest)

Verdict: Should be Retired…

It’s almost a bit sad to see such a great horse operating at this level of the stallion market. Only had a reported 15 foals in 2018 and the median for his 9 yearlings sold this year was 6000 guineas. Has his moments as a sire but his overall record was modest, given the opportunities he received.

Ruler Of The World €6,000 (€10,000) (2010 Galileo ex Love Me True by Kingmambo)

Verdict: Bon Voyage

A beautifully bred Derby winner who finished close up in a Champion Stakes. His stud record consists of Iridessa and nothing else. He was restricted by (relatively speaking) small crops of 45 and 55 in his first two seasons but will now be standing in Haras de Bouquetot for 2020.

Saxon Warrior €27,500 (€30,000) (2015 Deep Impact ex Maybe by Galileo)

Verdict: Fair Price

Lots to like about Saxon Warrior. By the 5th of May in his three year old career his career stats were 4 runs, 4 wins that included a 2000 Guineas, A Racing Post Trophy and a Beresford Stakes. In two of those races he defeated Roaring Lion. He ran five more times, finishing fourth at odds on in the Derby behind Masar and finishing third in the Irish Derby. He was narrowly beaten by Roaring Lion in an Eclipse before again finding that rival too good in the International Stakes and the Leopardstown Champion Stakes. He seemed versatile in trip being equally adept at a mile and a mile and quarter and not being beaten too far in two Derbies. He is a welcome top class son of Deep Impact to stand in Europe and his dam Maybe (by Galileo) was a champion two year old who won the Moyglare Stud Stakes from a high class female line. You could argue that he is just another unproven Guineas winner standing at Coolmore and his fee will be shaved further in the coming seasons but the novelty of his sireline in these parts make him an interesting prospect for the right mares. He attracted 165 mares in 2019 and should remain popular for now.

Sioux Nation €12,500 (€12,500) (2015 Scat Daddy ex Dream the Blues by Oasis Dream)

Verdict: Overpriced (slightly)

The poor man’s son of Scat Daddy and like others by SD he needed good to firm ground to show his best form. His overall record of 4 wins from 15 starts shows he was just short of top class even if he did snare a Group 1 in the Phoenix Stakes to go with his Group 2 at Royal Ascot in the Norfolk. His female pedigree is more than a little light by the usual Coolmore standards. Interestingly, the granddam Catch The Blues serves as a nice reminder that Aidan O’Brien didn’t always train Galileos. She was unsold for IRP£3500 but Aidan managed to win a Ballyogan Stakes with her and got her placed in a Haydock Sprint Cup. I would have thought something like 10k would be closer to the mark. However breeders obviously disagree with me and 241 mares were covered at €12,500 in 2019..

Starspangledbanner €22,500 (17,500)  (2006 Choisir ex Gold Anthem by Made of Gold

Verdict: Fair Price

A quality sprinter on two continents who had well reported fertility issues and he didn’t return from Australia for a few years. His first small crop (2012) of only 33 foals included a very impressive 8 Black Type winners including the Wow Signal, Home of the Brave and Anthem Alexander . There were 73 foals in his 2017 crop with Millisle delivering a second Group 1 for her sire in the Cheveley Park. His yearling median sales price took a bit of a dip to 30000 guineas in 2019, so that doesn’t leave a lot of scope for profit for commercial breeders. Maybe, I’m still blinded by the memory of that first crop but for me he is a likeable sire, who upgrades his mares and is worth using.

Ten Sovereigns €25,000 (na) (2016 No Nay Never ex Seeking Solace by Exceed and Excel)

Verdict: Overpriced

The poor man’s No Nay Never 🙂  Unbeaten at two, he won the Middle Park. He failed to stay in the Guineas before disappointing in the Commonwealth Cup. He bounced back with a top class performance in the July Cup before again disappointing in the Nunthorpe. On his final run, the Everest in Australia, he again failed to scale the heights 🙂 He cost 200,000 guineas as a yearling, with his dam being Listed placed and his grandam being Group placed. However, its an unremarkable distaff line and his siblings by Halling and High Chaparral were sold for €21,000 and 40,000 guineas respectively. The use of those sires and those prices gives an indication that this isn’t the bluest of blood. For less money, you could use a proven July Cup winner in Starspangledbanner, or a better bred one in US Navy Flag but regardless of what I say, Ten Sovereigns will  prove popular in his first season as people jump on the NNN bandwagon.

The Gurkha €12,500 (€17,500) (2013 Galileo ex Chintz by Danehill Dancer)

Verdict: Fair Price

Unraced at two, he was an impressive winner of the French Guineas. He then ran second in the St James Palace to Galileo Gold (after Frankie outrode Ryan Moore) and in the Eclipse to Hawksbill. He finished his career on a high with a victory in the Sussex Stakes over Galileo Gold, Ribchester and Awtaad.

The Gurkha has a classy enough pedigree. His dam, Chintz was a Group 3 winner of the CL Weld Stakes, his Granddam was a Listed winner and the third dam Brooklyns Dance is the dam of Arc winner Solemia and other notables.

It’s always a brave/foolish act (usually the latter) to use a horse in his fourth season. His first yearlings had a median of only 25000 gns which is a very poor result off a €25000 fee. There is no scarcity of quality sons of Galileo at stud competing for mares, but €12500 is enticing enough to overcome the usual caution in this matters.

US Navy Flag €17,500 (25,000) (2015 War Front ex Misty For Me by Galileo)

Verdict: Fair Price

US Navy Flag makes for an interesting comparison with Ten Sovereigns. Both won by the Middle Park and July Cup but US Navy Flag also won the Dewhurst. In addition, U S Navy Flag stayed better than Ten Sovereigns, finishing a credible second in the Irish 2000 Guineas to Romanised. US Navy Flag comes from a much better distaff line than Ten Sovereigns. His dam, Misty For Me won an Irish 1000 Guineas and Moyglare Stakes amongst her four Group 1’s and is also the dam of triple Group 1 winner Roly Poly (also by War Front).  To add to the story, Misty for Me is a sister to Prix Marcel Boussac winner Ballydoyle and this is also the family of champion two year old and flash in the pan sire Fasliyev.  Overall this is a real quality family. War Front is a better (and more expensive) and proven sire compared to No Nay Never. However NNN is more fashionable so Ten Sovereigns will attract more mares…..  Alas, commercial breeders have to take heed of fashion even when they disagree. The words of Keynes are very apt “the markets can stay irrational, longer than you can stay solvent”!

So how to assess US Navy Flag? He raced in headgear but he was genuine.  In terms of commercial appeal he is held back by his sire War Front. I’m not sure what happened to people with War Front. Everyone loved War Front, until they stopped loving him. He didn’t become a bad sire, quite the contrary, but there is a suspicion about his sire sons in Europe so in his first season US Navy Flag ‘only’ attracted 119 mares. The record of sons of War Front in these parts is not actually that bad. Declaration of War only stood in Europe for one season and his record was underwhelming, War Command can be excused on the basis of ordinary mares but this year Due Diligence exceeded expectations. Overall looking at the total package of pedigree and performance, U S Navy Flag looks a reasonable price to me.

Zoffany €22,500(€25,000) (2008 Dansili ex Tyranny by Machiavellian)

Verdict: Overpriced

Zoffany is Marmite (or should that be kryptonite) – everyone has an opinion on him, with little middle ground. Incidentally most people don’t like Marmite 🙂 I once part-owned a 40’s rated Zoffany colt/gelding but I try not to let that colour my view of him 🙂 

Albigna winning the Prix Marcel Boussac was a big result for Zoffany. He needed a Group 1 horse as he had lacked one since the forgettable Ventura Storm in his first crop. The heady days of a Royal Ascot treble in 2015 with Waterloo Bridge, Washington DC and Illuminate are all but forgotten.  In 2019, Zoffany had a useful supporting cast with Fleeting being placed in two Oaks and Main Edition winning a German 1000 Guineas. Albigna is however the only stakes winner to date from the 169 two year olds representing him in 2019. He has another 158 foals in his 2018 crop so he has plenty of ammunition for next season. For me, he hasn’t delivered on his early promise. He gets good looking sales horses and had a yearling median of 40,500 guineas in 2019 . However, his overall stats of 3% stakes winners don’t justify his stud fee.

Coolmore 2020 Fees- An Honest Appraisal- Part 1

Coolmore has 25 flat stallions on their roster for 2020. I’ve assessed each of their fees as either representing good value, fair value or poor value. I can be honest because I don’t get paid to run full colour page ads for their stallions 🙂 Given the number of stallions, I will consider 12 stallions this week…

Stallion 2020 fee (2019 fee)
Australia €27,500 (€35,000)- (2011 by Galileo ex Ouija Board by Cape Cross)
Verdict: Poor ValueOverpriced:

Australia was a superior Derby winner out of an outstanding Oaks winner and a gorgeous mover and physical specimen. I thought he was the natural successor to Galileo but I was wrong. He has done respectably but the market is unforgiving and fickle and his progeny are showing too much stamina for our speed obsessed industry. His average winning distance is 11.9 furlongs and he has yet to sire a Group 1 winner. His sales median held up surprisingly well this year but unless he comes up with some superstars next year, he will be in trouble. He is a high risk proposition for any commercial breeder who would be looking to sell a yearling by him in 2022. In my view, given the risks involved he is overpriced and closer to €20,000 would be more appropriate.

Calyx €22,500 (na)- (2016 Kingman ex Helleborine by Observatory)

Verdict: Fair Value: (surprisingly)

Surely €22,500 is too much for a horse who never won or even ran, in a Group 1? Surely its too much for a horse who was so fragile he only managed four runs in two seasons? Actually, its probably about right. Calyx was brilliantly fast and he is the first high profile son of Kingman to go to stud in Ireland. He comes from a strong Juddmonte family and he was precocious enough to win the Coventry at Royal Ascot. He is ticking the right commercial boxes ie fashionable, precocious and speedy and he should prove popular. That said I would expect the usual slight dip in fee in years 2,3 and 4 especially as more sons of Kingman hit the market. However as a purely commercial play (as opposed to someone looking to breed a racehorse), I think his fee is about right and can be justified.

Camelot €40,000 (€40,000)- (2009 by Montjeu ex Tarfah by Kingmambo)

Verdict: Poor ValueOverpriced:

He stood for €25,000 for his first three seasons so he clearly has done something right. This season was a case of ‘close but no cigar’- Pink Dogwood was beaten just a neck in the Oaks and the following day Sir Dragonet started favourite for the Derby and was beaten just under a length. Currently he has 25 stakes winners (a creditable 5% of racing age offspring) and Camelot is the main hope for the Montjeu sireline on the flat. His yearling sales median dipped to 60000 guineas from 80000 guineas in the preceeding year. I would have expected a downward adjustment in his fee for 2020 to either €30000 or €35000.

Caravaggio €40,000 (€35,000)- (2014 by Scat Daddy ex Mekko Hokte by Holy Bull)

Verdict: Poor ValueOverpriced:

Stood for €35,000 for his first two seasons and it is customary for fees to decrease not increase in the third season. He was an unbeaten two year old who won the Coventry and Phoenix Stakes and he defeated Harry Angel in the Commonwealth Cup at three. And of course, he was a son of Scat Daddy. It is this fact that accounts for the rise in his fee for his third season. People are assuming that he will replicate the success of Scat Daddy’s son, No Nay Never. He may well be a success but the risk/reward ratio for a third season sire doesn’t appeal to me.

Churchill €30,000 (€35,000)- (2014 by Galileo ex Meow by Storm Cat)

Verdict: Poor ValueOver Priced

Churchill won seven consecutive races including 4 consecutive Group 1’s in 2016 and 2017. Alas, I still had to rewatch videos of his Guineas wins and Dewhurst to refresh the memory. That tells me that although he compiled an impressive cv, he lacked the star quality you would expect from a dual Guineas winner. His pedigree is typically high class Coolmore, with the plebian Airwave family having now arrived at the top table. His sister Clemmie also won a Group 1 in the Cheveley Park. He was high class, is well bred and has as good a chance as any third season sire of proving successful, but perhaps is a bit pricey compared with Gleneagles.

Fastnet Rock €60,000 (€70,000) (2001 Danehill ex Piccadilly Circus by Royal Academy)

Verdict: Poor ValueOverpriced (Massively)

Verdict: His overall European record is nothing special given the quality of mares he received. Coolmore had hoped he would be a suitable consort for their many Galileo mares, but he didn’t really deliver. He can get a top notcher but even his best performers last season such as Torcedor, One Master and I Can Fly don’t exactly excite. His yearling median in 2019 was 51000 guineas so I don’t know how anyone thinks he is good value at €60,000. To me he is a €25,000 sire.

Footstepsinthesand €15,000 (€10,000) (2002 Giant’s Causeway ex Glatisant by Rainbow Quest)

Verdict: Poor ValueOverpriced

He stood at €10,000 for 9 consecutive years before getting a 50% hike for 2020.  The justification was the emergence of two high class two year olds in Threat and Mum’s Tipple. This racecourse success also saw a rise in his yearling median to 27000 guineas from 20000 guineas. However both Threat and Mum’s Tipple were beaten in the Middle Park. That is the story of Footsteps, he is a reasonable stallion, who progeny are popular with trainers. However his best progeny fall short of being truly top class. He has a place in the market but his fee for the previous 9 seasons is about right.

Galileo Private (Private) (1998 Sadler’s Wells ex Urban Sea by Miswaki)

Verdict: Value 🙂

We take his extraordinary results each year for granted. Another four classic winners in 2019 with Hermosa, Anthony Van Dyck, Sovereign and Search for A Song. The supporting cast included Circus Maximus and Japan. His fee has been private for over a decade now and supposedly over €500,000. At this level, the saying ‘if you have to ask the price, you can’t afford it’ springs to mind, so his actual fee is of little relevance to anyone who does their own shopping.

Gleneagles €35,000 (30,000) (2012 Galileo ex You’resothrilling by Storm Cat).

Verdict: Value

What’s not to like? A dual Guineas winner, first past the post in 5 Group 1’s and out of a full sister to Giant’s Causeway. He has had a very nice first crop with Group 2 winners in Royal Lytham and Royal Dornoch and a Royal Ascot winner in Southern Hills. Overall there were an impressive 25 winners from 111 foals. In the sales ring he had a yearling median of 75,000 guineas. No superstars (yet), but a promising start and less of a risk than some of his studmates.

Gustav Klimt €6,000 (€7,500) (2015 Galileo ex Massarrah by Danehill)

Verdict: Overpriced

‘Only’ a Group 2 winner but placed in the Irish Guineas, St James Palace and Haydock Sprint Cup. His place on the Coolmore roster is due to the fact that his granddam is Rafha, the dam of Invincible Spirit and Kodiac. He may uphold the family tradition but those two tend to be influences for speed and precocity and I’m not sure about a son of Galileo doing likewise.

Highland Reel €12,500 (€17,500) (2012 Galileo ex Hveger by Danehill)

Verdict: Overpriced

A really admirable racehorse. He ran 27 times. He won the Group 2 Vintage Stakes at two, won two Group 1’s at three, two Group 1’s at four and two Group 1’s at five. His successes included a King George, a Breeders Cup Turf, a Prince of Wales Stakes a Coronation Cup and a Hong Kong Vase. He is bred on the Galileo Danehill cross and his siblings include a Group 1 winner in Cape of Good Hope and an Irish Derby runner up in Idaho. We bemoan the fashion for speed and the lack of respect for soundness and toughness in our sires. However, I would be surprised if Highland Reel proves a successful flat sire. Nor does he appeal as an obvious choice for a commercially minded breeder. He lacked a striking turn of foot, improved with age and I expect him to be in Coolmore’s National Hunt division in a few years time!…

Holy Roman Emperor €15,000 (€15,000) (2004 Danehill ex L’On Vite by Secretariat)

Verdict: Fairly Priced:

Romanised helped show his sire in a positive light with his victory in the Jacques Le Marois and a controversial defeat by Circus Maximus in the Moulin (the placings should have been reversed in my opinion). Overall though it was an unremarkable year on the track. He got a new two year old Group winner in Roman Turbo and Listed two year old winner in Piece of Paradise. His yearling median last year was a solid 31500 guineas and his stats of 85 stakes winners from 1746 foals of racing age is a healthy 5%. He can sire a top class horse, can get two year olds and deliver a return in the sales ring so I think it’s fair enough to price him at €15000.

Night of Thunder’s Lightning Start

After a few years hiatus, I’ve found time to start writing again. My first topic is Night of Thunder who looks destined for the very top. His 2020 fee has been raised to €25,000, having covered at Dalham Hall for £15,000 for the past two years. He is likely to be heavily oversubscribed so you should call in whatever favours you can, to access him at that fee. He retired at a fee of €30,000 and if that was justified as an unproven stallion prospect, then €25,000 after a sensational first crop has to be the best value out there. If Coolmore stood him, he would be at least €50,000. I would be surprised, if he not covering at a six figure fee within a few years.

Night of Thunder’s Racing Career:

Night of Thunder made his debut in October 2013 , winning a 6 furlong Goodwood Auction Maiden by 6 lengths. He ran again two weeks later in a Listed race at Doncaster, this time by 3 lengths. Both races were on soft ground. It was a very satisfactory first season for a horse that Richard Hannon Snr was quoted as being all about his three year old season. He was best priced at 20-1 for the Guineas after his Doncaster victory.

However that price didn’t look very attractive following the first run of his three year old campaign in the Greenham Stakes. He was beaten over four lengths by Kingman with no apparent excuses. He was 40-1 when he reopposed Kingman in the Guineas. Richard Hannon Jnr, had taken over the licence from his father and stable jockey Richard Hughes chose Toormore, leaving Kieran Fallon to get the ride. It was a very strong Guineas field but despite hanging near the finish, Night of Thunder won by half a length from Kingman. Subsequent Derby winner Australia was in third and the also-rans included Group One winners Charm Spirit, Toormore, Kingston Hill, The Grey Gatsby and War Command.

Kingman won his classic in the Irish Guineas and got his revenge over Night of Thunder in the St James Palace, winning by a comfortable 2.5 lengths. Kingman added two more Group 1’s that season whereas Night of Thunder suffered three defeats. He didn’t stay in the Eclipse behind Mukhadram. He ran better back at a mile finishing a close third behind Charm Spirit in the Moulin and finishing his season with a close second again behind Charm Spirit in the QEII at Ascot. At the end of the season he was rated 5 pounds inferior to Kingman and a pound inferior to Charm Spirit.

Night of Thunder was kept in training at four. The decision seemed a wise one when he won the Lockinge on his seasonal debut defeating his stable companion Toormore . The rest of the season was slightly underwhelming. He was fifth behind Solow in the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot and sixth behind Solow in the Sussex Stakes. His final career stats were 11 runs, 4 wins , 3 seconds and a third. He was a stakes winner at two, a classic winner at three and a Group 1 winner at 4. His Guineas win may have been slightly surprising and Kingman was a better horse than him but he still defeated him on the day that mattered.


Combining a daughter of the best stallion in Europe with the second best stallion in Europe seems like an obvious recipe for success. The feud between Coolmore and Sheikh Mohammed meant that it wasn’t tried as often as you would have expected and even now there are only 42 foals of racing age bred on this cross. Night of Thunder, a March foal was bred by Frank Dunne and fetched only 32,000 guineas as a yearling in Book 1 of the 2012 Tattersalls October sales. He must have been an underwhelming physical specimen as his dam, Forest Storm was a winner for Jim Bolger and runner up in the Listed Flame of Tara Stakes (where she started odds on) . Indeed, she earned quotes of only 20-1 for the 1000 Guineas after winning on debut by 5 lengths at the Curragh. Forest Storm had herself cost €240,000 as a foal. Her form seemed to regress after her run in the Flame of Tara Stakes and she missed most of her three year old season, before putting in three modest performances in September 2009. Night of Thunder was her first foal.

The granddam Quiet Storm was by a disappointing sire in Desert Prince but she was also a winner and Stakes placed over 10 furlongs and a mile. She eventually found herself in India where she produced a domestic classic winner to the former Charles O’Brien/Aidan O’Brien stalwart Burden of Proof. The third dam Hertford Castle was by another hugely disappointing sire in Reference Point. The fourth dam Forest Flower earned the title of European Champion Two Year Old Filly in 1987, after edging out her great rival Minstrella in the Cheveley Park Stakes (a race from which she was controversially disqualified). She trained on the win the Irish 1000 Guineas to add to her Cherry Hinton, Queen Mary and Mill Reef victories.

Overall its a solid rather than spectacular female line.

Sons of Dubawi

Until the emergence of Night of Thunder, Dubawi had yet to get an outstanding sire son. His other Guineas winner Makfi had his moments (and his son Make Believe had a good freshman crop) but he wasn’t missed on his sale to Japan), Poets Voice also had some success (notably Poets Word) but no one greatly lamented his death in 2018. Al Kazeem had fertility issues, Worthadd was disappointing at the Irish National Stud and Universal was always going to struggle to get better class mares. There are a host of his sons at the early stage in their careers so plenty of sire sons could yet emerge.

Night of Thunder Dubawi Dubai Millennium Seeking The Gold Mr Prospector
Con Game
Colarado Dancer Shareef Dancer
Fall Aspen
Zomaradah Deploy Shirley Heights
Slightly Dangerous
Jawaher Dancing Brave
High Tern
Forest Storm Galileo Sadler’s Wells Northern Dancer
Fairy Bridge
Urban Sea Miswaki
Quiet Storm Desert Prince Green Desert
Flying Fairy
Hertford Castle Reference Point
Forest Flower

Night of Thunder’s First Crop

Night of Thunder’s stats to date are very impressive for a crop conceived at €30,000. There were 163 foals in that first crop. To date, he has had 51 runners with 28 winners, a winners/runners rate of 55%. There is no lack of quality either, with 7 Stakes winners including Group 2 winner Night Colours (f. ex Many Colours by Green Desert), Group 3 winners, Under The Stars (f. ex Jumeirah Palm Star by Invincible Spirit) and Pocket Square (f. ex Shared Account by Dansili). He has four Listed winners to his credit including Molatham (c. ex Cantal by Pivotal, Keep Busy (f. ex Look Busy by Danetime), Thunderous (c. ex Souviens Toi by Dalakhani) and Cacciante (c. ex Suggest by Raven’s Pass). Believers in nicks might see the above as a recommendation for Green Desert or Danehill crosses (and Night of Thunder also has two Listed placed sons with Cape Cross as broodmare sire) but I think it is just a reflection of the opportunities to date and the sample size is much too small to rely upon.

His winners have come from 5 furlongs to over a mile plus and seem versatile regarding ground. The strike rate is particularly high on good to soft ground and falls back on the all-weather but there may be other variables at play here including the lower quality of racing on the all-weather.

Conclusion and the future:

Night of Thunder has delivered lots of winners and plenty of high quality runners to date. He lacks a Group One superstar and that is possibly the reason that Darley didn’t go for a huge hike in his fee. However, his overall stats indicate that we are witnessing the emergence of an important new sire who is transmitting a lot of quality to his progeny. He improved from two to three and it would be surprising if his progeny don’t improve with age. The markets have been quick to notice his success and he had 43 yearlings sell this year for an average of 81000 guineas and a median of 48,000 guineas. I suspect we will look back on these prices as bargains in a few years time. My advice is simple- Breeders should do everything they can to use him while he is still affordable and owners/trainers should do all they can to get their hands on his progeny….

NoNoNorthern Dancer and Charles Darwin

It is a pity that Charles Darwin was not a horse-racing enthusiast as he would have had no need to travel to the Galapagos islands to perfect his theories. His Origin of the Species did of course discuss ‘selective breeding’ as opposed to natural selection and he once wrote that “Some dogs and horses are ill-tempered and easily turn sulky; others are good-tempered; and these qualities are certainly inherited”. You could point to Nasrullah, Roberto and Alleged as evidence of his prescience regarding ill-tempered stallions:) Although not a racing man Darwin’s interests weren’t always scholarly and his father once admonished young Charles for caring for ‘nothing but shooting, dogs and rat-catching and you will be a disgrace to yourself and all your family’!

In the thoroughbred population it is easy to see the heritability of desirable traits.  It is perhaps difficult to think of a better example of the efficacy of the spread of desirable genes through a population than the preponderance of Northern Dancer in the worldwide thoroughbred population. For a stallion who  sired ‘only’ 635 foals and was still covering in 1987 that is a rapid dissemination of genes. The effect is much more rapid than in previous ages due to our larger stallion book sizes  and the increasingly global nature of the stallion business.  Where once we could talk about French breds or German breds, as if they were quite distinctive, this is no longer the case. There are no distinctive ‘island’ effects anymore, with thoroughbred populations developing in isolation from the rest of Europe and the world, rather we have a homogenised European thoroughbred population.

It is interesting to consider those stallions that are available to European breeders that are entirely free from the Canadian super stud. There is nothing intrinsically superior about these stallions but what is apparent is their scarcity and modest stud fees. The passing of Monsun , the retirement of Dalakhani and the decline of the Ahonoora , Forli and Sharpen Up lines has seen the ending of our best ‘free from ND’ options. The best of the few remaining options are as follows (in no particular order):

  1. Nayef- 2016 fee £5000 (Gulch ex Height of Fashion by Bustino). As a four time Group 1 winner and a half brother to Nashwan and Unfuwain , there is much to like about Nayef. His stud career has been somewhat underwhelming but he had his moments. Tamayuz was a cracking miler and now has a promising commercial sire son in Sir Prancelot, . Gulch was a versatile son of Mr Prospector and Mr P will no doubt in time also become ubiquitous in US pedigrees.
  2. Rio de La Plata- 2016 fee €5500 (2005 Rahy ex Express Way by Ahmad) Rated champion French two year old after a win in the Grand Criterium he was second to New Approach in the National Stakes. He was second in the French Guineas and he picked up two Group 1’s as a five year old having ran 30 times during his career. Rahy is a son of Blushing Groom who sired the likes of Fantastic Light, Noverre, Serena’s Song and Mariah’s Storm. His dam was Argentinian bred and raced. His first two year olds have performed respectably in 2016 and he is an interesting young stallion.
  3. Lord of England- 2016 fee €5500 (2003 Dashing Blade ex Loveria by Los Santos). A group 1 winner at three in Germany he has compiled a respectable stud record. Dashing Blade is a son of Shirley Heights and thus Lord of England represents the Mill Reef line.
  4. Tagula- 2016 fee €4000 (1993 Taufan ex Twin Island ex Standaan ) A decent two year old who won the Prix Morny he has had a long stud career made respectable by two horses much superior to himself in Canford Cliffs and current star Limato. Taufan is by Stop the Music who is by Hail to Reason. Given his age it is unclear whether he will still be active in 2017.

Amongst the National Hunt ranks there are more options including

  1. Robin Des Champs 2016 fee private (1997 Garde Royale ex Relayeuse by Iron Duke). A decent hurdler but an exceptional sire with Quevega, Vautour, Sir des Champs to his credit. Garde Royale was a Group 2 winning son of Mill Reef who sired Carling on the flat.
  2. Flemensfirth 2016 fee €10,000 (1992 Alleged ex Etheldreda by Diesis). A dual group 1 winner and a top national hunt sire, his sire Alleged is from the Ribot line and his dam is by Diesis who is by Sharpen Up, both once prominent sire lines now in decline.
  3. Vinnie Roe 2016 fee €3000 (Definite Article ex Kayu by  Tap on Wood)- He wasn’t bred to be a stayer but he turned out to be a remarkable stayer. Definite Article is a son of Indian Ridge, a son of Ahonoora.
  4. Axxos 2016 fee €1200 (2004 Monsun ex Acerbis by Rainbow Quest)- A Group 2 winner and runner up in the Grand Prix de Paris, he is like many sons of Monsun being marketed to National Hunt breeders. There are lots of sons of Monsun on the market but most tend to have dams with some element of Northern Dancer.
  5. Gentlewave (2003 Monsun ex Saumerine by Saumarez). Another son of Monsun and a high quality one winner of the Italian Derby and runner up to Dylan Thomas in the Irish Derby.
  6. Gamut 2016 fee €3000 (1999 Spectrum ex Greektown by Ela Mana Mou). Winner of Grand Prix de Saint Cloud , however as a late maturing type he was unlikely to find favour on the flat. Has sired Road to Riches.

With the passing of time there will be no more options. On the grounds of age I have excluded stallions such as Turgeon ( 1986 Caro ex Reiko by Targowice)and Piccolo (1991 Warning ex Woodwind by Whistling Wind). There are bargain basement options such as Sabiango (Acatenango ex Spirit of Eagles by Beaus Eagle) and Major Cadeaux (2004 Cadeaux Genereux ex Maine Lobster by Woodman)- a winner of the Bet365 mile but yet to make any impact as a sire. There are also undoubtedly others that I have overlooked.


With each succeeding generation in a closed stud book, it becomes more likely that a major stallion like Northern Dancer will eventually achieve a presence in every single individual. What is remarkable, is the speed at which this has happened in European pedigrees for Northern Dancer. In Japan Sunday Silence is on his way to achieving a similar feat in an even shorter timeframe and Europe would benefit from importing some of his stallion sons and grandsons into Europe. The US has more variety and less domination by a single line. As mentioned at the outset I am not bemoaning the domination of Northern Dancer merely observing a change in equine history happening in fast forward. Darwin would have been impressed.

Cunco-Frankel’s First…

Back in January 2014, I wrote about Frankel’s first foal who was subsequently named Cunco (a town in Chile). As a yearling he was led out of the ring at Tattersalls in October as unsold at 280,000 guineas . He made history today by becoming the first runner for Frankel in a six furlong maiden at Newbury. Fans of Frankel will be encouraged by Cunco’s debut performance in which despite greenness he showed a nice turn of foot to win snugly  and afterwards he received some favourable comments from his jockey Robert Havlin and his trainer John Gosden. He should improve significantly for the run and I thought in light of his performance it was interesting to re-read my original article in which I wondered about the possible effects of so much inbreeding. No need to worry it seems !

The original article is shown below


Can you have too much of a good thing?

Frankel’s first foal was born on the 11th of January.  The dam Chrysanthemum was a Group 3 winner trained by David Wachman for Coolmore connections. In truth, in terms of racing performance and pedigree Chrysanthemum was no more than a middle ranking member of Frankel’s stellar first book of mares.

However what is far more interesting is the pedigree cross it represents.  We are by now, well used to seeing variants of the  Sadler’s Wells (and sons) by Danehill cross , the cross that reached its pinnacle with Frankel himself. It has proved hugely successful with Galileo alone having sired  8 Group 1 winners out of Danehill mares. Chrysanthemum is by Danehill Dancer out of a daughter of Sadler’s Wells and it begs the question can you have too much of a good thing?

Sadler’s Wells and Danehill are the giant names of European breeding in recent decades. Coolmore achieved considerable success with the likes of Horatio Nelson (Danehill ex Imagine), Peeping Fawn (Danehill ex Maryinsky and Chevalier (Danehill ex Legend Maker) bred on this cross.  Given the number of high class broodmares they possess with both names in the pedigree it is perhaps unsurprising that they are considering doubling up what has worked in the past.

They would have been encourage by the results to date for Teofilo (Galileo ex Speirbhean by Danehill) who is similarly bred to Frankel. Teofilo has made a good start to his stud career highlighted by Group 1 success for Parish Hall  (ex Halla Siamsa by Montjeu) and Irish Derby success  with Trading Leather who is out of a Sinndar mare and thus has another cross of Danzig as does Voleuse Des Coeurs (ex Vadorga by Grand Lodge). This new foal is just gone a little further in terms of duplication.

This foal will have Sadler’s Wells 3X3, and Danehill 3X3.  In the first 6 generations Northern Dancer’s name appears 5 times and he appears once more in the 7th generation. Given that Danehill features 2 crosses of Northern Dancer’s dam Natalma, her name appears 8 times in the pedigree! If this was  a human we would be appalled, even if it was a pedigree dog we would be concerned yet when it comes to our friends the thoroughbreds we just think it’s interesting!  As regards the question, whether you can have too much of a good thing,  we will obviously just have to wait until he finishes his racecourse career to answer that one…

Frankel's first foal
6 generation pedigree

Kildangan’s 2016 fees- Do they Exceed or do they Excel?

In terms of quality there isn’t a lot to choose between the rosters at Dalham and Kildangan. Dubawi is the key difference between the sides and Dalham currently has more elite stallions (Dubawi, Golden Horn and New Approach) than Kildangan. However the Irish operation probably has more strength in depth at the mid-upper market range. The fees at Kildangan for 2016 are almost unchanged from 2015 with only two changes. The weakness of the Euro should enhance the attractiveness of the stallions to UK breeders. Cape Cross appears to me as the best value proposition standing there.

Kildangan Stud 2016 fee (2015 fee)

Shamardal Private (€70,000) (2002 Giant’s Causeway ex Helsinki by Machiavellian).

The star of the Kildangan operation. A seriously good racehorse who won all of his 6 starts on turf including a Dewhurst, a French Guineas, a French Derby (over 10 furlongs) and a St James Palace Stakes. He is a consistent stallion who gets classy types across a range of distances and is currently showing a very creditable 8% stakes winners to foals of racing age . Had another good year in 2015 with 28 stakes winners in total . His older horses were best represented by two stars in Hong Kong in Able Friend and Dan Excel aka Dunboyne Express. His three year olds were headed by classic placed Lucida, Group 2 winners Balios and Dariyan.  Best of all he sired two impressive two year olds in Cheveley Park winner Iluminate and the Champagne Stakes winner Emotionless who had looked awesome prior to his listless run in the Dewhurst. His strength in depth, the potential of his two year olds and his claim to be a sire of sires since the emergence of Lope de Vega are all justifications for a fee increase. The question however is how much of an increase and we are obviously entering the realms of speculation given the ‘private’ nature of his 2016 fee. So let’s speculate..:)

Looking around Darley are probably comparing Shamardal with Sea the Stars (2016 fee €125,000) and Invincible Spirit (2016 fee €120,000). However I think they should resist the temptation to match those fees. At first glance his yearling sales returns look impressive with an average of 215000 guineas in 2015 but surprisingly this is a reduction on his 2014 average of 237,000 guineas and his medians are a more modest 115000 guineas in 2015 and 140000 guineas in 2014. To me this restricts the scope for dramatic increases in his fee. In my view €85,000 would be a justifiable price, €100,000 would be steep and above that walk away. He is a fine stallion but not at any price.

Note that since I posted this piece I’ve been informed that Darley is operating a restricted book for Shamardal due to an injury he received  last year so he is unlikely to be open to any outside mares (thanks to Donal McKenna for that update).

Teofilo €50,000 (€50,000) (2004 Galileo ex Speirbhean by Danehill)

An unbeaten champion two year old who was being talked about by Jim Bolger as a potential triple crown winner. In fact he never made the track at three. He has compiled a solid stud record with 6% stakes winners. Many of his best runners have been handled by Jim Bolger who still has a significant stake in the stallion. Teofilo had a good year in 2015 headlined by Irish 1000 Guineas and Yorkshire Oaks winner Pleascach and Group 2 winner and Sussex Stakes runner-up Arod. Had some nice  two year olds as well with Group winner First Victory and a Dewhurst second and third in Massatt and Sanus Per Aquam. I thought he was pricey last year but I think his results this year justify his fee although commercially his yearling median of 66000 guineas doesn’t allow much of a margin of error for commercial breeders.

Exceed And Excel €40,000 (€40,000) (2000 Danehill ex Patrona by Lomond)

A successful stallion in two hemispheres a real two year old sire and commercially popular with a median of over 80,000 guineas in 2015. His best runners in 2015 were Coventry winner Buratino supported by other group winners Aboulie and Rouleau. However his total of European Group 1 winners is still a very modest three (Excelebration, Margot Did and Asi Siempre). His European fee started out at a modest €10,000 and I blame his success for all of the other reverse shuttlers that we don’t need 🙂  The market isn’t going to lose its preference for two year old sires any time soon, so commercially his fee is probably justifiable but at that price there are better sires of racehorses out there.

Dawn Approach €35,000 (€35,000) (2010 New Approach ex Hymn of Dawn by Phone Trick)

A champion two year old, a Guineas winner who won 8 of his twelve starts including four group 1’s. He was unbeaten in his first 7 runs until the sequence ended when failing completely to stay the Derby trip. His reputation was sky high entering the Derby, he rebounded to win the St James Palace Stakes only 17 days after the Derby, but his reputation dimmed with defeats on his final three runs. He was part of the superb first crop of New Approach and his dam is from a reasonable but not remarkable US family.  New Approach has gone a little quiet after his first crop and I would have thought that Dawn Approach’s fee would have dipped because of this and as newer sires came to the market.

Night Of Thunder €30,000 (NEW) (2011 Dubawi ex Forest Storm by Galileo)

Somehow defeated Kingman in a quality renewal of the 2000 Guineas and among his other vanquished that day were Australia, Charm Spirit, Toormore, Kingston Hill and War Command. Ran well but unsuccessfully in a number of mile races in 2014 but returned to winning ways in the 2015 Lockinge Stakes. He failed to build on that success in two more moderate runs behind Solow before retirement. He cost only 32000 guineas as a yearling which was well below the average for Dubawi that year and surprising as his dam was stakes placed and from the family of Forest Flower. He is the first big winner to emerge from the combination of Dubawi and Galileo and this combination of the two best sires in Europe is likely to be replicated many more times. Night of Thunder is the best son of Dubawi to stand in Ireland which should help his popularity but overall I think he is fully priced.

Cape Cross €20,000 (€20,000) (1994 Cape Cross ex Park Appeal by Ahonoora)

The best value sire on the Darley roster. In 2015 he had another superstar in Golden Horn to rank alongside Sea the Stars and Ouija Board and yet his fee is unchanged. He had a total of 12 stakes winners this year and his overall stats now show 102 stakes winners from 1954 foals of racing age which is a credible 5%. In 2015 he also sired Karpino who was an unbeaten and impressive winner of the German guineas but unfortunately was not seen out again after May. Better still he has a live prospect of siring a third Derby winner in the Jim Bolger trained Moonlight Magic (Cape Cross ex Melikah by Lammtarra). Moonlight Magic was unbeaten in his two races including a listed race and is certainly bred for the job as Melikah (who was placed in the Oaks) is a daughter of Urban Sea so Moonlight Magic is a three parts brother to Sea the Stars.  Age is no barrier to a stallion siring successful offspring and breeders should take advantage of Cape Cross at his bargain fee before he is retired.

Slade Power €20,000 (€20,000) (2009 Dutch Art ex Girl Power by Key of Luck)

Won 10 of his 20 races and his career peaked as a five year old when he notched a group 1 double in the July Cup and the Diamond Jubilee. He was a Group 2 winner as four year old in the British Champions Sprint a race in which he had broken his pelvis as a three year old. He was rated 130 by Timeform but his pedigree is very ordinary as evidenced by his price of 5,000 guineas as a yearling. Admittedly at the time his sire Dutch Art was available for only 6000 guineas but after a good start to his career he is now standing at a hefty 40000 guineas. I wouldn’t be rushing to spend 20k on an unproven sire from a modest female line, who cost 5k as yearling and who was at his best as a five year old over 6 furlongs.

Raven’s Pass €15,000 (€20,000) (2005 Elusive Quality ex Ascutney by Lord at War)

A good two year old who looked special in the Solario Stakes before coming back to earth with a third place in the Dewhurst behind New Approach. He took a while to get things together at three being beaten in his first four starts including in the Guineas, St James Palace and Sussex Stakes behind Henrythenavigator. However he finished his season with a trio of victories including defeats of Henrythenavigator in the QEII and in the Breeders Cup Classic run on a pro-ride surface at Santa Anita. He retired at a fee of €40000 and the fall to €15000 tells its own story. On the face of it his percentages aren’t bad with 5% stakes winners (13 from 244 foals of racing age) but there has been a real lack of high quality performers. His highest rated performer by the Racing Post is the very forgettable Steeler who won a Royal Lodge. Incidentally his sales averages were distorted by the insane 2 million euros that Moyglare paid for a filly (ex Spirit of Tara) from a quality Kilcarn Stud family  at Goffs in September. Moyglare were clearly attracted to the dam of the filly and obviously weren’t bothered by her age (21 years old). Returning to Raven’s Pass, it’s difficult to see him resurrecting his reputation and getting improved results from cheaper books of mares so a definite avoid recommendation.

Epaulette €7,000 (£7,000) (2009 Commands ex Accessories by Singspiel)

A dual group 1 winner at 5 furlongs and 7 furlongs and a three parts brother to another Darley sire in Helmet. A grandson of Danehill and from a European family his pedigree should seem familiar to European breeders . Not too expensive but I’d still be very reluctant to use these unproven Aussies- he might be the next Exceed and Excel but more likely he will be just another failed reverse shuttler.

Hallowed Crown €7,000 (NEW) (2011 Street Sense ex  Crowned Glory by Danehill)

Another dual group 1 winner who won 6 of his 9 starts. Its easy to see why Aussies would like this fellows pedigree- his dam was runner up in a Golden Slipper and his third dam Lady Giselle is the dam of Zabeel. The same comment that I made about Epaulette applies in this case i.e. he might be the next Exceed and Excel but more likely he will be just another failed reverse shuttler.

Shooting To Win €7,000 (NEW) (2011 Northern Meteor ex Listen Here by Elusive Quality)

Won a Caulfield Guineas. His sire Northern Meteor died as an 8 year old after a very promising start to his stud career. Northern Meteor is a son of Encasto de Lago so it is interesting that the Fairy King sire line might find a way to reestablish itself in Europe. Again the same comment about unproven shuttlers that I have previously made applies in this instance.

French Navy €4,000 (NEW – Darley Club) (2008 Shamardal ex First Fleet by Woodman)

Managed 22 runs and 11 wins in a career that saw him run every season between the ages of 2-7. Consistent at his own level but that level never went about that of a Group 3 winner. His pedigree is sprinkled with a few decent names and he is by a very good stallion in Shamardal who has already got a very good stallion son in Lope de Vega. Having him in the ‘Darley Club’ allows breeders a free return in years two and three and a lifetime breeding right thereafter which make him seem much more attractive for breeders on a tight budget. However before breeders get swayed by this marketing offer they have to ask themselves why, if they were unwilling to use a stallion for one year they would instead commit to using him repeatedly because he is part of a special offer?!  Its a bit like saying you wouldn’t consider going someplace on holidays for a weekend but if the price is right you will commit to going there on holidays every year for the next decade!

Fulbright €4,000 (NEW – Darley Club) (2009 Exceed and Excel ex Lindfield Belle by Fairy King)

Won the Listed Woodcote Stakes and 2 and the Challenge Stakes at 3 for Mark Johnston before being transferred to Godolphin. He raced primarily in Meydan at 4 and 5 but without notable success. He is a half brother to two group winners in Baltic King and Domingues (both by Danetime) and Baltic King has compiled an undistinguished record at stud. Another very difficult sell to breeders and hence the use of the carrot of the Darley Club.